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The Colbert Report Signs Off


Comedy Central(NEW YORK) -- After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central's award winning spoof news show The Colbert Report.

Colbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, after spending several years as a correspondent on another Comedy Central program, The Daily Show. His parody of right-wing TV commentators quickly became a hit."

And no, he didn't break character, even in the finale. 

Let's not pussyfoot around," Colbert said in his last "Word" segment. 

"I have had a huge impact. Need more evidence? Maybe you should ask Saginaw Spirit's mini mascot Steagle Colbeagle The Eagle," which was obviously named in his honor. "I don't remember Cronkite ever having a mascot!" Colbert trumpeted.

While Colbert's only official guest was occasional guest Grimmy AKA The Grim Reaper -- who, after a struggle Colbert shot to death, therefore insuring the host's immortality -- the host was accompanied in studio by dozens of celebrities to sing the WWII standard "We'll Meet Again."

The star singers included Bryan Cranston, George Lucas, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Katie Couric, James Franco, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, Elijah Wood, Cindy Lauper, Michael Stipe, Alan Alda, Patrick Stewart, Willie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Mike Huckabee, Henry Kissinger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Broakaw, Yo Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Smaug, Tim Meadows, Keith Olbermann, and Sam Waterston.

Other guests chimed in via video, including J.J. Abrams (appropriately backed with a Star Wars "crawl" reading the song's lyrics), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan (still chained in front of his computer in Colbert's basement, as in a previous episode that had the host forcing him to make more episodes of the AMC drama), troops in Afghanistan, an astronaut running on the C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill in space, and former President Bill Clinton (tweeting using the account Colbert created for him on the air).

Later on, Colbert got more serious, saying, "We finally come to the end of the Colbert Report. Nine great years, 1,447 wonderful episodes," expressing he just has, "so many people to thank," including, "everybody who works so hard every day to make something special," as well as, "all the friends and family for putting up with our long hours, the network for giving us the chance to begin with -- and of course all the guests...thousands of them--too many to thank. So... I'll just thank Mavis Staples. So Mavis, if you can just call everybody tomorrow, that would be great."

The host then addressed the fans by saying, "you, the Colbert Nation: we couldn't have done it without you."

The show ended with more guests, however, notably Santa Claus, who arrived via sled on the roof of Colbert's studio with none other than Abraham Lincoln -- who revealed himself to be at least part unicorn -- and "the man with all the answers," Jeopardy's Alex Trebek in tow. "So I guess I'll be gone forever?" Colbert asked. "Oh no, no no," Trebek assured him. "We'll always be there for the American people when they need us the most."

"But aren't you Canadian?" Colbert countered, expressing that Trebek's "dual citizenship since 1998" really is, "not the same." And with that, Santa's sleigh took off, with the host, who will start as David Letterman's replacement on CBS' Late Show next September.

After a few weeks of @Midnight airing in the Report's 11:30  time slot, Comedy Central will replace it with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering January 19.

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Cosby Lawyer Says Comedian's Comments 'Continue to Be Misconstrued'


Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) -- An attorney for Bill Cosby on Thursday criticized freelance journalist Stacy Brown on a Friday article in the New York Post in which Cosby's comments "continue to be misconstrued in a way that can only call into question the fair-mindedness of certain commentators."

In that article, Brown quoted Cosby as saying, "I only expect our black media to uphold the standards of excellent journalism...and when you do that, you go in with a neutral mind." Cosby's attorney, John P. Schmitt, said that Cosby "did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media."

Instead, Schmitt says, "he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner -- without a predisposition on either side of the story." That expectation applies to all media, he noted.

Schmitt also noted the "mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric" spouted by MSNBC commentator and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson's comments called Cosby's request for neutrality the comedian's "rape [of the] entire black community."

Cosby has been accused by several women in recent weeks of sexual abuse. Earlier this month, a woman named Judy Huth sued Cosby, alleging he molested her in the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

Last month, Cosby denied the allegations made against him through his attorney.

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Mistrial Declared in Case Against Man Accused of Stalking R&B Singer Ashanti


ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) -- A New York criminal court judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the case against Devar Hurd, the man accused of stalking R&B singer Ashanti.

The mistrial was declared because one of the jurors was too sick to come in for deliberation. Hurd, who represented himself while facing charges of stalking and aggravated harassment, will return to jail and be retried as soon as next month.

Between September 2012 and July 2013, Hurd allegedly sent over 100 messages to the singer on Twitter. Some of the messages were sexual in nature, and prosecutors said those messages caused harm to her "mental and emotional health." Hurd also allegedly approached Ashanti's sister, a violation of an order of protection requiring him to stay away.

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Theaters Now Pull "Team America" Movie One Day After "The Interview"


Kevin Winter/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- After a few theaters tried to replace The Interview with another movie highlighting North Korea, Team America has also been pulled from theaters.

Paramount Pictures, the studios behind Team America, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but the theaters said the company yanked the film only hours after the independent theaters said they would show the 2004 movie in place of the James Franco and Seth Rogen satire.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today," the Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas-Fort Worth tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Two other theaters -- Capitol Theater in Cleveland and Plaza Atlanta -- did the same, saying Paramount canceled the showings.

Please note: Our Late Shift screening of Team America: World Police has been canceled by Paramount Pictures. pic.twitter.com/TlPVzIeICW

— Capitol Theatre (@CapitolW65th) December 18, 2014

Team America is the second movie pulled from theaters in two days after cyberhackers threatened theaters that planned to show Sony’s The Interview.

Alamo Drafthouse Wednesday was the first to post the planned replacement movie, written by the creators of South Park.

On its Facebook page, the theater wrote, "For the record, our plan was to still show The Interview ... unfortunately these decisions aren't always ours to make. But in light of these recent events, we only have one thing to say: 'AMERICA F*** YEAH!' ... Join us for a special showing of the TEAM AMERICA QUOTE-ALONG" with subtitles for the film's songs on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.

"This show is FREE, because you can't spell 'FREEDOM' without 'FREE,'" the theater added.

Now, that planned has been shelved.

For those who have never seen the decade-old movie, Team America's plot involves Kim Jong-il, the late father of current North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un. It's another satire much like The Interview, but more violent as American forces battle terrorists led by the World Police. But it's filmed using puppets.

"We're just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation," James Wallace, creative manager and programmer for the Texas theater, told The Hollywood Reporter about the plan to swap out the films.

The Alamo Drafthouse did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

As for The Interview, Sony pulled the plug on the release date of Dec. 25 after major movie chains like AMC and Regal all chose not to show the movie because of hacker threats.

"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," Sony said in a statement. "We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers."

The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and "their right to free expression."

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Jennifer Aniston Reveals Downside to Letting Herself Go for "Cake"


ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) -- Jennifer Aniston is getting some serious Oscar buzz for her role in Cake, but the actress recently said letting herself go for the acclaimed role did come with some negative side effects.

On an episode of the Dr. Oz Show that aired on Thursday, Aniston, 45, talked about playing a character -- Claire Simmons -- in the movie, that deals with chronic pain and how she had to stop working out for a while to make the part convincing to the audience.

This lack of exercise really affected her in the real world.

"It really was interesting when you stop working out how you just...my serotonin levels went down. My stamina was shot. I was cranky. I was irritable," she said on the show in a clip obtained by US Weekly. "I found myself short. I was hungry like crazy."

She said the role made her realize how important fitness is in her life.

"[It's] important to our soul, not just being able to fit into skinny jeans," she added. "Just your state of mind, your soul, all of that."

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Stephen Collins Describes 'Unthinkably Wrong' Encounter with Girl


Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor Stephen Collins’ confession of sexual misconduct with three underage girls in the past has made him an entertainment industry pariah.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News’ Global Anchor Katie Couric, the man who played a virtuous father and pastor on the hit TV show 7th Heaven described an inappropriate encounter with one of the girls, saying he knew he had done something “unthinkably wrong” that he couldn't take back.

Collins, 67, said there were two times in 1973 where he exposed himself to the “young woman.”

According to Collins, the underage girl had come to visit and stay with him and his first wife, and after his wife had gone to sleep, he and the girl were watching TV together.

“And I took her hand and moved it in such a way that she was touching me inappropriately,” he said. “I knew that something unthinkably wrong had just happened that I couldn't take back.”

Collins also confessed to exposing himself to a teenage girl in 1982 and again in 1994.

The actor told Couric that after extensive therapy and religious consultation, he has not had an impulse to act out in such a way since 1994.

“I’m a flawed person,” Collins said. “And in the church, it’s actually one of the things I love about the church...it’s really one of the main things about the Christian faith, is you know, Christ said in so many ways, ‘Bring me that...which about you is broken, bring it,’ and most people are broken in some way.”

Allegations of Collins’ wrongdoing first surfaced in October, when a 2012 audio recording of his confession during a marriage counseling session with his estranged wife, Faye Grant, was released by TMZ.

Collins has lost acting jobs as a result of the revelations, and 7th Heaven has been pulled from syndication. He also resigned from the national board of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents people who work in television and radio.

In a previous statement to People magazine, Collins had said the marriage counseling sessions were recorded without his or his therapist’s knowledge or consent.

"This came out. I didn't choose this to come out," Collins told Couric. "I didn't want to have to deal with these things publicly.”

“I had dealt with them very, very strongly, and committedly, in my private life, but I think I’m a human being with flaws and I've done everything to address it,” he said.

In a statement issued to ABC News in response to the new interview, Collins' estranged wife, Grant, wrote, "I sincerely hope Steven gets the help he needs."

The couple's divorce proceedings have been moved to next year.

Watch more of Katie Couric's interview with Stephen Collins on
20/20, Friday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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North Korea-Set Thriller Starring Steve Carell Cancelled


NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth(LOS ANGELES) — The hack attack on Sony not only altered plans for its comedy The Interview, it also resulted in the cancellation of a movie from a different company that was to have starred Steve Carell.

Deadline reports New Regency has pulled the plug on the untitled thriller, which would have been set in North Korea and helmed by Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. Production would have started in March.

Fox had declined to distribute the film, and Deadline's sources say that given the current situation with Sony, it didn't make sense to move forward with it.

Verbinski reacted with a statement to Deadline that reads in part, "My thoughts: I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear."

Sony Pictures announced Wednesday it has cancelled the Christmas Day release date of The Interview, after hackers threatened theaters that planned to show the film. Several movie chains pulled The Interview from its schedule prior to Sony's decision.  

Carell tweeted on Wednesday that it was a "sad day for creative expression."

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Angelina Jolie on Bucking the Hollywood Establishment: ‘I Do What I Want to Do’


ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua(NEW YORK) — Angelina Jolie has never played by Hollywood's rules, and she doesn't plan on changing that anytime soon

"I never had a plan in my life," the 39-year-old actress-turned-director tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I do what I want to do. And if suddenly tomorrow I couldn't do anything, I could deal with that."

"I'd be happy at home being a mom," she adds.

These days, Jolie is most interested in directing, and so far she seems to be one of the few women to earn a place among the A-list stars who have made the transition.

Her third directorial effort, By the Sea, seems a bit of an odd choice for the Maleficent star. The film, which she also wrote and stars in with husband Brad Pitt was shot in Malta, right after the famous couple tied the knot. It centers around a husband and wife trying to rekindle their dying marriage during a trip to Europe.

"Yes, we spent our honeymoon playing two people in a terrible marriage," Jolie tells the industry trade publication, admitting, "I'm sure a therapist would have a field day analyzing the films I choose to do."

"But it's been 10 years since Brad and I have worked together, she explains. "It felt like it was time."

By the Sea is expected to hit theaters in 2015.  Jolie's directing credits also include the documentary A Place in Time, the 2011 film In the Land of Blood and Honey and her latest, Unbroken, which opens Christmas Day.

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Stephen Colbert Says Goodbye to “The Colbert Report” Thursday Night


Comedy Central(NEW YORK) — After nine years as host of The Colbert Report, and with a new gig as David Letterman's replacement on the horizon, Stephen Colbert will sign off from his Comedy Central late-night show on Thursday night.

Colbert launched his show on Oct. 17, 2005, after spending several years as a correspondent on another Comedy Central program, The Daily Show. His parody of right-wing TV commentators quickly became a hit, as he popularized terms such as "truthiness."

Colbert's highlights during his run include hosting the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2006, launching a fake run for president in 2007, and hosting a handful of episodes of his show from Iraq in 2009.

Colbert faced controversy earlier this year, when the Twitter account for his show posted a tweet that was intended to mock Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for the way he handled the complaints regarding his team's nickname, but which some deemed insensitive to the Asian community. The tweet inspired a social media campaign calling for his show to be cancelled. For his part, Colbert said he did not write the tweet.

Colbert's guest on The Colbert Report finale, airing at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, will be Grimmy, a.k.a. The Grim Reaper.

Colbert will take over CBS' Late Show from Letterman next September. Comedy Central will fill his current time slot with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering Jan. 19.

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Charlie Sheen to Reprise “Ferris Bueller” Role for “The Goldbergs”


Frank Ockenfels/FX(NEW YORK) — Charlie Sheen will reprise one of his early roles for a guest appearance on ABC's 1980s-centric comedy The Goldbergs.

The Anger Management star will channel his Ferris Bueller's Day Off character -- the unnamed bad boy in the police station -- for an episode airing in early 2015, according to People magazine.

Sheen's character in the 1986 movie had a flirtatious conversation with Jennifer Grey's Jeanie, the sister of Ferris Bueller. In the episode of The Goldbergs featuring Sheen, Hayley Orrantia's Erica will essentially fill the Jeanie role.

There's been speculation that Sheen will return to the CBS sitcom from which he was fired a few years ago, Two and a Half Men, for its series finale on Feb. 19, but nothing's been confirmed.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Opens One Year from Today


LucasFilm(NEW YORK) — Dec. 18, 2015 -- one year from today -- will be a day long remembered for Star Wars fans: it's when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. The film, the first Star Wars movie released since ABC's parent company Disney purchased George Lucas' galaxy far, far away, is the first chapter in a new trilogy.

For now, not much is known about the plot of J.J. Abrams' film, so fans the world over have resorted to poring over every frame of the 88-second teaser that was released on Black Friday.

Dan Casey, associate editor of the geek culture website Nerdist, says fans are excited about the fact that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, the stars of the original Star Wars films, are returning for this one.

"I think that people were honestly...quite surprised that the original cast was going to be returning, because it didn't seem like something they wanted to do," he said. "It felt like something that they were trying to distance themselves from, actually. So...that was just sort of like icing on the cake. It was -- you know, if people were excited at ten, that kicked it up to eleven."

Aside from the returning cast -- which also includes Anthony Daniels as finicky protocol droid C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca -- The Force Awakens also stars series newcomers Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey, and John Boyega as Finn.

The new character names were recently revealed by Abrams, who didn't elaborate more about the newcomers' roles. He was also mum about who Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will be playing.  

While some Star Wars fans were disappointed by the three prequel films, Casey insists the movie from lifelong Star Wars fan Abrams seems specifically designed to make disgruntled fans say, "All is forgiven."

"Everything I've seen so far has just been like a "Hey, come back to the fold," Casey tells ABC News Radio. "It's sort of like that 'come to Jesus' moment where they recognize some of the faults with the prequel trilogy and they're trying to course correct and from everything I've seen so far, just judging by that trailer, it sounds like they have their heart in the right place."

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Norman Bridwell, Creator of "Clifford the Big Red Dog," Dead at 86


Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The author and illustrator of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series of children's books has died.

Norman Bridwell died on Martha's Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, on Friday, according to the publisher of his series, Scholastic. He was 86.

Bridwell created Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963, and the character was featured in dozens of books. Two new books, Clifford Goes to Kindergarten and Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah, will be released in 2015.

The character also inspired a PBS animated series of the same name.

Bridwell is survived by his wife, Norma; a daughter, Emily Elizabeth; a son, Timothy; and three grandchildren.

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Sony Pulls the Plug on Dec. 25 Release of "The Interview" After Threats


Sony(NEW YORK) --  As major movie chains moved to pull The Interview from their holiday lineups after threats from the Sony Corp. hackers, Sony has decided to shelve the film.

"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," the company said in a statement. "We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers."

The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and "their right to free expression."

"Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or video on demand release.

The decision by Sony came after all the biggest chains including AMC and Regal announced Wednesday they wouldn't show the film. On Tuesday, Sony Corp. hackers warned of an impending attack on theaters that showed the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres," Regal, which has nearly 600 theaters in 44 states, said in a statement Wednesday.

AMC followed suit, also stating the chain's holiday lineup would move forward "without The Interview."

Earlier, the Bow Tie chain released a statement pulling the film, saying the company is "saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism" and that its mission is "to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees." Cineplex Entertainment, which has 162 theaters, also said Wednesday that it will “postpone” showing of the film.

The comedy-horror film was set for a Dec. 25 release.

The moves came shortly after Sony told theaters they do not have to show The Interview, after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives' emails posted a message on Pastebin apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said.

Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen also canceled all press appearances in light of the threats, a representative for Rogen said.

The Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any "credible intelligence," but sources told ABC News that the Sony hack and matters tied to it are being investigated not just as a criminal cyber matter but as a national security matter by the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

A prime suspect is the North Korean regime, and sources say this hack has shown an unprecedented capacity and ability to directly harm a major corporation.

Last week, the FBI held a private meeting in New York with reps from across the entertainment industry to brief them on cyber-related threats against them. The Sony hack was not the only topic discussed, but it was a major one, sources said.

"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," Sony said in its statement.

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Stephen Collins Admits He 'Did Something Terribly Wrong'


Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Stephen Collins has been keeping a low profile since news broke last November that he'd sexually molested more than one female minor in the past.  Now the actor, famous for his role as Reverend Eric Camden on the long-running TV drama 7th Heaven, has released a statement detailing how he had inappropriate contact with what he says are three women decades ago.

Collins tells People magazine that there were three victims from 1973 to 1994 and he's "not had an impulse to act out in any such way" since then.

"Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent."

Collins is referring to when TMZ posted audio of him allegedly confessing to sexual abuse during a therapy session with his now-estranged wife, Faye Grant. Grant referenced the allegations in court papers related to their ongoing divorce.

Continuing, Collins says: "On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."

The actor said he hasn't apologized to all of the women he victimized, but did have "an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later."

"I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious," Collins added. "But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s."

Collins' full statement is on People.  He'll also sit down with Katie Couric for an in-depth interview to stream on Yahoo! that will also air Friday on ABC's 20/20.

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Robin Williams' Son Zak Opens Up About His Lingering Grief


Jemal Countess/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Zak Williams says he is still grieving over the death of his iconic father, Robin Williams, earlier this summer.

"I miss him all the time," he told People magazine. "Often I see something or if I'm watching a film, I think, 'Oh, man, he would have appreciated this' or, 'He would have gotten a laugh out of this.' "

Williams died of an apparent suicide from asphyxia at age 63 in early August.

Zak Williams, 31, along with his sister, Zelda, 25, and his brother, Cody, 23, have been open about their grief since their dad’s death.

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about our dad," Williams told the magazine, adding that by helping others, he's now begun to heal.

At the time of his death, the actor's rep released a statement to ABC News, saying, "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss."

Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, later revealed he was also in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

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